Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Official- I'm Getting Old

It's official- I'm getting old! Why did I just discover this you ask. No, it is not because of the wrinkles on my forehead that continue to get deeper and deeper everyday. No, it is not because it is now easier for me to gain ten pounds in a week rather than drop five. It is not because I have discovered the pleasure of napping. It isn't even because I would rather choose a night watching tv in bed over a night out on the town. While all of these things do put me in the old category, the real reason for this new official status is: I am now the mother of THREE High School kids!

Where oh where has the time gone. I can remember walking each one of them into their first day of kindergarten. Heck, I can remember their first day of preschool! It seems like just yesterday I was freaking out because Declan was headed to middle school. Now my baby is done with middle school!

But to be honest, thisis an amazing, exciting time. What a special year next year will be. Having my three kids all be at the same school is such a special treat. Not because of the logistics and carpooling (though that is a perk), but because they get to be together. I love it when I hear from Declan that he was cracking up as he walked out of his class and heard the jubilant shout "FOR NARNIA" coming from way down the hall and said "I hear my sister coming". I love that they bump into each other during the day, visit with each others friends, are there for each other if there is a need. I am excited for Cambria to be able to be a part of that amazing, private club. She has not been in the same school as her brother since 1st grade. What a special treat to get to have him near her more often in a social setting before he leaves for school. What a treat for Declan also to have those extra moments with his sisters before he leaves.

But before we get all sappy and emotional about that we get to enjoy a summer together. Lots of family, lots of fun, lots of travel. So excited to spend the summer with my 3 fabulous High Schoolers!!!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So good to have her back :)

Can I just tell you how happy I am to have my HAPPY, FUN, LIFE LOVING, POSITIVE Decota back. It seemed like we were seeing less and less of that outgoing girl we knew as she withdrew further and further into her shell over the last year. There have been many issues that played into her retreat, and any teenager would have had some sorrow and dark days because of them, but I know that she was struggling just to deal with life at times simply because she just plain old felt horrible. It is so much harder to be able to handle anything when you are fighting either being nauseous and throwing up, massive headaches, or being in a daze and tired everyday of the week. Decota's medicines over the last year have just really taken a toll on her poor little body. Things that she would normally be able to just brush off became mountains she didn't know if she could climb. She felt so sick that she would fight her way through school, and then come home and retreat to her room where she would just pull her covers over her head and hide. Her zest for life was slipping away and my social butterfly became more and more content to be alone. It finally got to the point where Decota was throwing up before she took her meds and could not get them down. We were back to spending hours trying to get the meds down, if we could at all. She was miserable, I was miserable. I was not sure what we were going to do, but I knew we could not continue down this path any longer. I had told her rheumatologist over and over that she was not tolerating the medicine well, but they basically felt like those were things you just had to live with when you were taking chemo. They tried to make it better by prescribing nausea meds, but they just brought on whole new problems of their own. Finally I felt like we had had enough, and I didn't know what to do anymore. We walked into her eye specialist and Decota and I told him our concerns- and what do you know, he did something about it.

On April 9th, after over 4 years of being on Methotrexate (8 if you count the other years she was on it), Dr. Calannan took her off of it and started her on Cellcept. Instant miracle in our home. Within a week the nausea stopped and Decota quickly started to reblossom into herself again. Her confidence came back, her smile reappeared, she started hanging out in the living room with family again, she wanted to be with friends again, and life was once again a beautiful thing. There has been some underlying worry that the medicine would not work, and that her health might start to regress, but for the most part we have not dwelt on that.

The days seem to continue to get better and better, but today was a great day! We went to Scottish Rite today for her first visit since the medicine change and everything looked GREAT! Not only that, but she no longer has to come in for blood work between the quarterly checkups, and only has to do it on appointment days. That may not seem like a lot, but it is 4 less trips to the hospital a year, and that much closer to having a normal teenage life. She was in such a spectacular mood all day. We celebrated and did a little shopping after the hospital visit. We had a great lunch. We joked around, danced goofy with each other, and just had fun. It really was wonderful.

And all day I just kept thinking, "There you are Decota! I have missed you so much. I have wished for your return so many times. I have prayed about the return of these moments. I have longed to hear the freeness in you laugh. I have waited for that weight to be lifted off your a shoulders that I just could not manage to lift. I have wished to see that love of life back in your eyes. I have missed our 2 way conversations. I knew you would come back, and I would have waited as long as it took, but I am so glad to see your return now. And just like always, your smile still lights up the room- but now your matching eyes light up the world! Welcome back!"



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Great news! It's just the stomach virus :)

Great news! It's just the stomach virus!

Who would have the words "stomach virus" would bring relief, and do I dare say happiness?

Yesterday Decota called me a bit panicked from school. Her joints were on fire. She said she had not felt great when she went to school, a little achy, but that she just chalked it up to a long week and weekend of dancing. As second period came the aching spread from her legs, arms and back to her wrists, ankles, and digits. By third period she was in pain and miserable, and panicked that she might be having a major flare up.

Almost a month ago she was moved from methotrexate (which was causing her to be sick nearly all week each week) to Cellcept. This medicine is generally used by transplant patients to suppress their immune system and help keep them from rejecting their new organ. This is a drug we do not know a ton about and we were a little bit nervous as she started it. Would it make her sick too? Would it be as effective? Would she loose any of the progess she has made?

Luckily for us, within days we realize that she was not going to be nauseous anymore. She started to relax, and a week later you could tell a huge weight had been taken off of her shoulders. There still have been moments when she has expressed concern that the medicine will not be as effective and she will have gone backward at her next appointment, but for the most part she is transforming back into our happy, fun loving Decota.

And then yesterday happened. When I went to pick her up from school she not only looked sick, she looked worried. She had no fever, but she was cold, achy, and her stomach was cramping. I immediately thought, "oh good, it's just the flu." Really, just the flu? Yep, that was my thought. My friends were hoping it was not the flu, but not me, I wanted the flu. I could handle the flu. Just not a flare please.

This morning we went into the Dr and they swabbed and flu tested her. Three minutes later- no flu. Then a long line of questions and exams. Finally the prognosis- a stomach virus. Really, just a stomach virus? She isn't throwing up and is so achy thought. Well apparently this bug doesn't always make you throw up and can cause aches without a fever. Yay! A stomach virus- even better.

So today we relaxed, stopped worrying, and watched movies while Decota ate princess chicken noodle soup ( yes, she specifically asked for princess and spongebob). AJ, Decota's boyfriend, called at lunch time and let us know he went home not feeling well, and hour later he was throwing up. Now we really relaxed!

So who would have ever thought the stomach bug would be something to cheer about. Not me- but I am cheering!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Highsteppin' on out the door

Decota decided to try out and join the Highsteppers Drill Team her Freshman year. It has been an interesting experience for her this year. While she has loved having the opportunity to be a part of a team and dance everyday, she has not been thrilled with all of the people she is around everyday for extended periods of time. She has not loved the actual football, drill team dancing. She has not liked the disorganization of the team. She has not liked the slow pace that they work at. In the end she became miserable and disenchanted with the whole Highstepper experience. Of course she did not want to give up dancing and competing entirely, so we found her a dance company and studio that will allow her to continue to grow the way she wants to grow in dance.

Today was the culmination of her time on the team. This afternoon we had her banquet. A few tears were shed by her as she watched the slide show and listened to the farewell speeches given by the seniors. I was afraid there might be some regrets as the year came to the end and she was faced with the reality of her decision to not be a part of the team next year. She assured me that she had no regrets as we left the banquet, but I knew we still had to get through the final performances that evening.

Tonight she was on stage for the last time as a part of the team. She did amazing! I love to watch her dance, and it was fun to see her smile shine and stand out even when there were so many girls surrounding her. They all did beautifully, but I must say that she looked great. However, as I watched the show I knew for certain that she had made the right choice for her if she was serious about dance and wanted to see how much potential she has in it. While the team looked great, there was not a whole lot of difficult technique or fine tuning to their moves. When they broke into small ensemble groups the differences between the level of dance, skill and talent that the girls posses became glaringly apparent. If she really wants to push herself, she will only be able to do this in a smaller, more intimate, and more demanding environment. I think she will be able to grow so more quickly in much less time.

As the show finished and she met us in the Lobby there tears, no regrets. She was smiling from ear to ear, glad it was done, knowing she had done her best and was moving on. No regrets.

I am sure there will be time during the next year when she will miss parts of being a Highstepper. There may even be moments when she questions her decision. But I am so glad that she is such a strong, independent person that is able to make decisions and know with a certainty that she is making the correct one for her. That when she makes a decision no amount of teacher pressure, peer pressure, persuasion or worry is going to dissuade her from her course. I am amazed by the maturity and strength of this incredible 15 year old girl.

Now on she goes- on her way to new adventures, new lessons and new experiences.

No regrets!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Green Greatness

Pinapple, mango, peach, orange green smoothie

The delicious and nutritious yumminess of the Green Smoothie has become a staple of our mornings around the Johnson house.

Banana, strawberry, orange, pinapple green smoothie

You never know what they are going to look like, brown, pinkish, fluorescent green; however you can be assured that they will taste wonderful. And the best part- I am sending my kids off for the day with a serving of fruit and veggies, fiber and vitamins right off the bat.

Homemade banana bread

While the kids also have either eggs, Greek yogurt and granola, or banana bread with it to help them start the day with a full stomach, Rodney and I find that it is the perfect size breakfast for us.


Margaritaville Blender <3

My favorite part of making these nutritious pick me ups is my incredible blender. I highly suggest having the Margaritaville blender in your home. They kids love making frozen concoctions all summer, but who would have imagined that it would make such perfect smoothies! The spinach is ground so finely that my pickiest eater can not even find room to complain! A true must have if you plan on making them a daily part of your life.

How do you make them you ask? Easy! I am the type that likes to have a recipe and follow it word for word. I was a bit hesitant to start making these because there really is no recipe. I will admit that my first couple had a bit to be desired, but very quickly I got the hang of it. Basically I start with a handful of spinach. Then I add what ever fruit I desire for the day ( some fresh, some frozen- with a great blender it really doesn't matter). Next I add what juices I am in the mood for so that they just pass the 16 oz line. Some days I add a couple of spoonfuls of vanilla honey greek yogurt or agave nectar if I feel like it. Then I fill my ice holder with ice, dial my blender to smoothies and 3 servings (althought it makes 5 easy), and hit the start switch. Moments later I have the perfect smoothie, and the perfect start to my day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Little Miss Jock

Who would have thought that our jock would be our girl, and our baby girl no less. You would usually think the baby girl would be the spoiled little daddy's girl- complete with dresses and bows. Not so in our house. Our little one eats and drinks sports, and is competitive in everything she does 24/7. 2 years ago we were sent an invitation in the mail to attend an awards assembly at school for Cambria. We had never been invited to this special, invitation only event at the school before, so we were not quite sure what to expect. Cambria was thrilled. She was positive that she had earned the award for best PE student. We all dressed up, drug the whole family out, and sat through THREE + hours of awards being handed out as each teacher went on and on about their favorite student. Finally the PE awards came, and then went. Cambria sunk down in her seat and almost died when she realized that she did not receive that award. We sat there for about another 1/2 hour, with a daughter on the verge of tears, waiting for her name to be called. Finally, the big grand finale and highlight of the night came- the academic, straight A student awards. That is when her name was called. She didn't crack a smile as she made her way to the stage to accept her trophy (yes trophy, every other award was a certificate, but this one got a trophy). She never cracked a smile as she posed for a picture, or made her way back to her seat. As she came to where we were sitting she quickly handed me the trophy commanding me to "please hold this stupid thing" and then proceeded to ask if we could hurry and leave, all the while on the verge of tears. Of course we told her to sit her little rear down and be gracious and wait for the rest of the awards to be handed out. Luckily the never ending awards assembly ended minutes later, and she was out the door before we could say a word to anyone there. As we hit the car the tears came. She was so disappointed that the coaches had overlooked her and not given her the award. She could not believe that she sat nearly 4 hours to receive an academic award. We reminded her over and over that the academics are what matter, but it just went in one ear and out the other. She does take pride in her academics and making good grades, but the fact was- someone else beat her as the best PE student. Last year when she dislocated her elbow and was unable to run track and cross country she was so upset because she knew she would not be in the running for an award her 7th grade year. In fact I had to go pick her up from school for a bit so she could stop crying and get her composure back after she was told by her coach that track would be over before she was out of her cast.

But this year, 8th grade, she finally did it! She received her special invitation to the athletics awards ceremony. She dressed up. She counted down the days. She received her award with a big smile on her face. Again we sat through many awards, but then finally her name was called and she was awarded the Cross Country Outstanding Athlete Award! It is just a certificate, a simple piece of paper, but you would have thought it was gold. She has waited for this day for 3 years, and now she can say she achieved it- an athletic award from school, recognition from her teachers and coaches, respect from her classmates and teammates. Little Miss Competitive! Where did we get this kid?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Miss...

I miss...

I have been going through photos this morning looking for some old ones to include in Decota's Highstepper banquet. It has been really fun to look back at not only the memories, but the cute little personalities of my kiddos. This week I have been feeling a little nostalgic. I think it is because we took Declan to a meeting Sunday with the President of SVU, and a few other people from there. As we sat and talked to them it really hit me that this is really going to happen. He will really be leaving me before I know it. Now every night when I go to his room and kiss him goodnight I can't help but think I only have so many more of these nights left. To even put me further over the top, I took Cambria to her first practice with the HS soccer team yesterday. Seeing my baby out there with those girls, and realizing she is just as big as some of them, just about knocked me over. And then there is Decota constantly nagging me about getting her permit. All I have to say is- WHERE DID THE TIME GO????? So as I was looking through photos today I came up with a few things I miss. Some of them you are going through right now, and I hope you hold onto those moments, because they will pass- way too quickly!

I Miss:

Little kids sticking their tongue out at me and thinking that is the worst insult they could give

My make up all over the face, arms, clothes, and carpet of a child (it really doesn't matter what their sex is)

Dress up clothes

Plastic high heal shoes

Boys peeing on trees because they don't want to come inside for 3 seconds to use the bathroom

Potions made in the tub or bathroom sink with soap, shampoo, bubbles, glitter, and anything else that could be snuck into the bathroom

The smell of baby lotion on soft cheeks, feet and hands

Bike washes made out of pvc with holes poked in them

Sleepovers on the trampoline

Crack the egg

Lunch at the park with my friends while the kids run wild

Trips to Hobby Lobby just to buy stuff I don't need but want

Scrapbooking with a house full of friends and kids

Doing a quick clean up before my husband comes home and discovers that I had way more fun than he did while I was home and he was at work

Long family vacations


Being skinny

Being tan

Girls’ week

Staying up all night with my sisters laughing until our eyelids can't stay open anymore

Vacation with my husband and feeling like we are in college again

Dance parties at the Johnson house for all the neighborhood kids

The cul-de-sac on Foutz rd where the kids played hour’s everyday

Evenings full of family, friends and food

Cheese sticks at the country club

The rec center's ridiculously low priced activities

Trips to the dealership where the kids left with pockets full of quarters and candy (and a book from papa)

Big wheels

Declan and Daniel refusing to use the front doors and scaling the wall to get to each others back doors everyday

Kids sleeping on my lap

Baby dolls on my floor

Chalk on my driveway

The Wiggles and Blues Clues blaring through my house

With all that said I LOVE who my kids are today and spending every second I can with them. It is so fun to see who they have grown into. I am amazed at how much they have changed, yet stayed the same. I see how their little personalities have molded them into the people they are today. I am excited for them as they encounter each new stage of life.

But I do miss those little fingerprints all over the glass doors too....